Earlier tonight, the HoCo Bears traveled to play the North Atlanta Warriors in the First Round of the GHSA AAAAAA Playoffs and the result was a wild 42-32 Bears victory to propel them to the second round behind Ricky Johnson’s three TD receptions and the defense’s four interceptions.
On the first play from scrimmage, the Warriors threw a pass that was picked off by Jordan Smith to set the visitor up at the host’s 28 yd line and two plays later; AJ Hill found Ricky Johnson for a 29 yd TD reception and the PAT was good and the score was 7-0 HoCo with 11:11 left in the first.
North Atlanta drove down the field and their drive would stall forcing them to settle for a field goal which was good and the score was 7-3 Bears a few minutes later. The Black, Silver, and White would respond with another TD this time a QB run by backup QB Christian Stokes and the PAT made it 14-3 Bears with a little over 4:15 left in the first.
The visitors got another interception late in the first via Darius Patterson but the ensuing offensive drive would stall resulting in a punt by HoCo and the score would remain 14-3 Bears heading into the second. HoCo would score again with roughly 8:34 left in the first half when Amir Thomas ran the rock in from five yards out and the PAT made it 21-3 in favor of the Black, Silver, and White.
HoCo narrowly missed a 38 yd FG with over four minutes left in the first half. The Warriors got a TD with roughly a minute left in the first half when Ian Reynolds found Grant Thompson for a 34 yd TD reception and the PAT made it 21-10 Bears which would be the score going into halftime.
The Black, Silver, and White received the second half kickoff and the drive resulted in a punt and the Warriors were able to drive down the field on a 9-play 59 yd drive that was capped by an 18 yd rush TD by Demetrius Barnes and the PAT made it 21-17 HoCo with over seven minutes left in the third.
The Bears answered quickly when AJ Hill found Ricky Johnson for the second time on a 58 yd TD reception and the PAT made it 28-17 HoCo with over 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the third and the score would remain as such going into the fourth.
North Atlanta would respond again…. this time with a deep 87 yd drive capped by a Demetrius Barnes 3 yd rush TD and the host faked the PAT try and converted the two-pt play to make it 28-25 in favor of the visitors with 11:52 remaining in the ball game.
On a third and thirteen on their own 8 yd line… HoCo QB AJ Hill would find Kale Woodburn for a MASSIVE 92 yd TD reception and the PAT made it 35-25 Bears with a little over eleven minutes left in the contest.
The Warriors would not back down as they would get a huge fourth down conversion via a penalty and the host was able to drive down the field and Ian Reynolds ran the rock in from 20 yds out and the PAT made it 35-32 HoCo with a little over seven minutes left in the game. North Atlanta would catch the Bears sleeping as they tried the onside kick and would recover the ball in Bear territory.
Moments later… the Black, Silver, and White’s defense came up huge as Jordan Smith picked off the Warriors for the second time in the contest to kill the host’s drive. The Bears would have to punt yet again and their defense once again held strong forcing a turnover on downs with 3:02 left in the game.
Facing a fourth down and medium situation… AJ Hill threw the ball and found Ricky Johnson for the third time with a huge 38 TD reception and the PAT would make the score 42-32 HoCo with around 2:40 remaining in the game. Two plays later, Darius Patterson picked off the Warriors for the second time with 2:08 left in the game to officially seal the HoCo victory as they were able to run out the rest of the clock to win 42-32.
The Bears improve to 9-2 overall and will travel to College Park next Friday to face the Woodward Academy War Eagles in the Sweet Sixteen while North Atlanta finishes their 2023 season at 9-2 overall.